Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
Why Gay Hip-Hop/Rap?
By Khalil Amani
The following article, which appeared in DJ Kay Slay’s, Straight Stuntin Magazine, was written some 11 years ago (ca. 2008)—before lesbian rapper Young M.A became a mainstream hip-hop recording artist with her hit song, “Ooouuu”—before VH-1 included gay/homosexual themes in the hit TV series, “Love & Hip-Hop”—before R&B/hip-hop influenced singer Frank Ocean came out of the closet—before New Orleans' gay rapper Big Freedia became mainstream and before TV's, "Empire," a show about rap/hip-hop that features a gay character, Khalil Amani was on the forefront of pushing for gay rappers, being mentioned in such notable publications as LA Times and Spin Magazine! Khalil has been advocating for the total inclusion of all disenfranchised and marginalized voices in rap music to be heard, long before it became cool to do so.
Indeed, it was Khalil Amani—a straight black man who lent his whet (sharp) pen to the vision of the future of rap music. Long before Amani stepped on hip-hop’s world-stage, as the journalist who first “outed” Afrika Bambaataa as gay and a pedophile in 2013 for allegedly date-raping a young Spanish man, it was Khalil who was holding court with the likes of Kanye West, who, at the time (2008) was the most vocal proponent of gay rights in hip-hop.
(Inside Spin Magazine with Khalil Amani 2009)
Khalil was known as, “Gay Hip-Hop’s Spiritual Advisor”—a straight black man who took hella flack for his controversial stance on gays doing hip-hop. Khalil was doing some cutting-edged, progressive and ahead of the curve thinking and writing! In 2008, no one was cosigning the idea of (openly) gay rappers in mainstream! No one!
It was DJ Kay Slay—the “Drama King”—the man who refereed the beef between Nas vs. Jay-Z who allowed this little no-named writer named Khalil Amani to introduce the idea of gays openly doing hip-hop in mainstream. DJ Kay Slay had the balls to allow me to speak my truth in his magazine, Straight Stuntin Magazine!
WHY GAY HIP-HOP/RAP?
Lurking on the periphery of the mainstream hip-hop/rap world—“Homo-hop,” “Out Hip-hop,” or “Gay Hip-hop” is banging on the door and demanding to be heard! Gay rappers like Deadlee, Tori Fixx, Tim’m West, Last Offence, TwiZz@, Bry'NT, Sonny Lewis and (Bone) Intell are killing the gay hip-hop game and ripping to shreds the notion that a gay rapper is soft, effeminate, flaming, and bitch-made! The stereotype that gay rappers are all a bunch of flaming faggots gay dudes is being hotly contested by Out/Gay hip-hop’s finest!
Some may not like the fact that gays and lesbians are entertaining the idea of mainstream hip-hop/rap acceptance. It is hip-hop’s final frontier—a gay rapper being accepted as a credible, marketable lyricist. It is also hip-hop’s chance to live out its true meaning—that is; a voice to the voiceless, an all-inclusive genre, which transcends race, religion, creed, gender, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation—our founding fathers’ utopian idea of “real” hip-hop!
They ask, “Why Gay Hip-Hop?” In a utopian world, there would be no need for such labels as “gay hip-hop.” Hip-hop is hip-hop! Ya heard me?
We’ve got gangsta rap (Just Ice/NWA/Snoop Dogg/The Game), beefing rap (50 Cent/Ja Rule/Rick Ross), freaknik rap (Two-Live Crew/Petey Pablo), party rap (Hammer/Young Joc) dope boy rap (Young Jezzy/Rick Ross), sex rap (Trina/Lil Kim), backpack rap (A Tribe Called Quest/Kanye West), conscious rap (Common/Talib Kweli), militant rap (Public Enemy/dead prez). And then there’s Snap, Crunk, and Hyphy rap genres. So what’s the problem with gay rap, besides homophobia? You homophobic hip-hop rap heads sound just like white folks sounded forty years ago when the day came for integration and they had to “allow” black folk to eat in the same restaurant and drink out of the same water fountain and shit in the same toilet! Listen to yourselves! They thought that our black skin was gonna rub off on them or we got some different kind of germs that were unheard of in white people. Some of y’all think there’s a “gay” germ or you’re gonna turn gay or someone might mistaken you for gay.
We, hip-hop heterosexual males think we’re the baddest S.O.B.’s walking the earth! We think we can’t be touched—especially by some gay dude. (*Just listen to the lunatic homophobic ranting of Trick Tick and 40 Glocc) Oh hell no! We’ve learned nothing from the deaths of Tupac, Biggie, Big L, Jam Master Jay, Soldier Slim, Freaky Tah, Mac Dre, Proof, Big Hawk, Izzy Ramirez, Philant Johnson and Stack Bundles. Black men are dying all over America over some bullshit! We’re still beefing over bullshit! Many black men don’t give a damn about the next black man, so you know they give less than two shits about a homosexual man. “Effin’ faggot! Eat a dick!” We’re comfortable in our homophobia, so much so, that we freely use the words homo and fag on our rap albums.
I find it quite insulting to even ask such an asinine and insidious question about gays in hip-hop! Hell, why hip-hop at all? What is hip-hop if it is not all-inclusive of anyone who’s got something relevant to say? Detroit lesbian rapper FELONi sees the hypocrisy and contradiction in hetero-mainstream hip-hop/rap and asks the very poignant question when she raps, “If hip-hop is here to represent the black collective, then what the fuck is it about MY black perspective?” Very profound indeed! She’s asking, “Why am I shut out of the mainstream—because I’m lesbian?” It’s not like every straight rapper is droppin’ science when they open their mouths. Quite the contrary and so much so that Nas declared, “Hip-hop is dead!”
Hip-hop was born out of poverty—out of powerlessness—out of voicelessness. When N.W.A. came on the scene, no one asked, “Why gangsta rap?” And if they did, it didn’t matter. Gangsta rap didn’t give a fuck about what mainstream America (or other genres of rap) thought about its misogynistic and gangster lyrics. When “Freaknic rap” (as rapped by the likes of Two-Live Crew) came on the scene, there wasn’t a backlash from within the hip-hop community over the way they portrayed women. The government may have had problems with what they were rapping about but they couldn’t stop that Freedom of Speech train they were riding.
So, I ask, “Why not gay hip-hop?” If…if… if gay Liberace can prance around in diamonds and furs and let his well-manicured fingers stroke the keys of the piano playing CLASSICAL music and sell millions of records and sell out Vegas—If gay Little Richard, the self-proclaimed “Architect of ROCK & ROLL” can woo black and white audiences with Tutti Fruiti and Long Tall Sally all the way to the bank—If gay Freddy Mercury and Queen can sing We Are The Champions and Bohemian Rhapsody (arguably one of the greatest rock songs ever) and still not damage the persona of ROCK—If gay Elton John can be a force in ROCK, POP and SOUL singing Bennie and the Jets—If gay Sylvester can sing DISCO and have all the straight bell-bottom wearing men doing the bump—If gay gender-bending Boy George can wear a face prettier than most women and still garner mainstream attention singing POP—If gay George Michaels can sing R&B and not shame the genre—If gay cross-dressing Rupaul can have a top 40 record on the radio—If Madonna can introduce a record and a dance called Vogue, which was created by homosexual men and make it a dance craze—If “ex-gay” Donnie McClurkin can put a Band-Aid (religion) on his (homo)-sexuality and sell millions of GOSPEL records along with feminine-acting Dr. Bobby Jones—then why the phuck can’t we have a GAY “gayngsta” Tupac-esque RAPPER named Deadlee?
(LA-based gay rapper Deadlee, who's been featured on CNN, The Tyra Banks Show, The Howard Stern Show, LA Times, Allhiphop.com, and many, many, many other publications. He is the reason Khalil Amani joined the Gay Hip-Hop Movement.)
Why does homo-hop have to stay as a subculture of a subculture? Let’s keep it “historically” real! Gay people have influenced hip-hop no matter how homophobic we are and no matter how we feign ignorance of the homo-paradigm!
In-the-closet gay/flamboyant Liberace was such a brilliant musician and entertainer that many in the hetero rap world are on his jock! Dr. Dre, in his song, California Love rapped, “Diamonds shinin’, lookin’ like I robbed Liberace….” Mannie Fresh rapped, “The ring I got, Liberace want it. He couldn’t afford that shit, but I can afford to flaunt it!” Other straight rappers have paid homage to Liberace through their lyrics—Juvenile, Baby, 50 Cent (Hustler’s Ambition), Kid Rock (American Bad Ass), G-Unit (Stunt 101), Eminem (Criminal), D12 (Fight Music), Big Pun (It’s So Hard), Lil Wayne (We Fly High-remix), Clipse (Mr. Me Too), Lil Flip (alias Fliporace), Rugged Intellect (All Fair). Don’t tell me that gay artists haven’t influenced hip-hop! Are rappers the first to make it fashionable to wear excessive jewelry? No! Gay Liberace did! Was Cam’ron the first to wear pink fur? No! Gay Liberace wore furs down to the floor!
Liberace and his musical son, Elton John—they are the undisputed bling-bling kings—the original stunnas! Lil Jon might be in the Guinness World Book of Records for the biggest pendant, but he’s just a copier of something a gay man started before he was born! All of your clothing lines, your pink furs, your virgin chinchilla spreads, your outrageous jewelry, your stunna shades (see Elton John’s album covers circa 1972-‘74), your ostentatious show of wealth—gay, feminine! I didn’t create the paradigm. I’m just showing you where hetero rappers have bitten off their sense of style from—gay men!
What's the difference between gay Elton John's stunna shades of the 70's and straight Bishop Don "Magic" Juan's present-day stunna shades?
Every genre of music has gay and lesbian artists—from gay classical musical composer Tchaikovsky to blues singing lesbian Ma Rainey. Check your music history pimpin’! And then… and then! Here comes the infant of musical genres… rap music frontin’ like a gay person ain’t got no place or business in this particular genre of music! Get the fuck outta here with that shit! The same genre of music that talks about the underdog, the impoverished, the voiceless, the disenchanted, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the ‘hood, the ghetto, keepin’ it real… the dregs of American society! Yeah, rap music has been around for 30+ years, but that ain’t shit on the world stage of musical history! Humankind has been making music for more than 8,000 years! Can you dig that? Rap is still in the womb of the universal language—music! Rap is in its first trimester and can still be aborted like an unwanted fetus at the murder clinic if we don’t get it right! Can you say DISCO? Four hundred years from now, when your favorite rapper is taking a dirt nap (dead), will they know about Rakim, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Nas, 50 Cent, Common, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Outkast and Snoop Dogg like we know about Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Handel, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, Hayden and Shubert? Four hundred years from now will Nas’ Illmatic be as relevant as Handel’s Messiah is today? Will Rakim’s Follow The Leader be as compelling as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony?
This will be the test of the rap genre! Longevity and universal respect and recognition! Or will rap music find itself being relegated to an obscure footnote in the annals of musical history? This is a question for the gatekeepers/vanguard/aficionados of hip-hop/rap to ponder. Most hip-hop heads can’t see that far into the future, so naturally homo-hop is not even considered a relevant discussion in the narrow-minded here-and-now world of heterosexualism. But I’m raising the bar of hip-hop consciousness and treading on uncharted ground, which the most progressive hetero rapper dare not go!
It’s okay to call black women “bitches & hoes,” but don’t let those gay people tell their stories! It’s okay for the ‘hood man to rap about his days as a D-boy/snowman (drug dealer) and all of the criminality of “trapping,” but those gay rappers gotta go? It’s okay for rappers to tell us how they are fucking the be-Jesus out of our daughters, but don’t let those fags rap about man love! It’s okay to slide credit cards up black women’s ass-cracks ala Nelly, but goddamnit, those fucking homos got no business in hip-hop! It doesn’t matter that we break many biblical laws, so long as we don’t break the law condemning homosexuality! Damn we’re some ignorant cusses! Come on hip-hop! Stand the fuck up!
Author, poet, essayist, blogger, troll, satirist, cultural critic, freethinker, father, grandfather, husband & C.O.O.N (Consciously Optimistic, Overtly, Nihilistic), Khalil Amani is "Gay hip-hop's Straight Advocate." A Miami native who writes for Allhiphop.com, DJ Kay Slay’s Straight Stuntin Magazine. He’s been featured in L.A. Times, Miami New Times, Miami Herald, Thump/Vice/Noisey.com, Forward, Spin Magazine, DaveyD.com, DJ Kay Slay's Streetsweeper Sirius XM Radio Show, The Opperman Report, Sa NeterTV, CBS's, "West 57th Street" (1988), The Biography Channel's, "I Survived a Cult" (2010), The Biography Channel's, "Escaping Evil: My Life in a Cult" (2013) and 2018's, ID (Investigation Discovery) Channel in conjunction with People Magazine "Cults." Look for upcoming feature on Mr. Amani in February 2019 on Oxygen Channel and currently in a special edition of People Magazine on cults. Amani is the author of seven books, including the groundbreaking “Hip-Hop Homophobes...” (iuniverse.com ’07). Khalil was the first media person to write about the allegations surrounding Afrika Bambaataa allegedly getting stabbed for date-raping a young man in 2013 and is in the upcoming documentary on the Afrika Bambaataa allegations, Trapped in a Culture. Amani majored in English and Black Studies at San Diego Mesa College and the University of Nebraska. Follow on IG @khalil_amani, Facebook, Twitter @khalilamani. Email @firstname.lastname@example.org
Khalil Amani is a straight black man and the “Spiritual Advisor” to Gay Hip-hop. He is the author of Hip-Hop Homophobes: Origin & Attitude Towards Gays & Lesbians in Hip-Hop Culture; As Perpetuated by Rappers, Thugs, Athletes, Reggae Rastas & Religionists; Essays on the 3,000 Year Old Polemic Against Homosexuality; A Religious Hoax! (iuniverse.com)